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The Man Booker Dozen

Anne Tyler’s Spool of Blue Thread made the longlist for the Man Booker Prize, announced on July 29th- the only book on the list I’ve read.  Like a baker’s dozen, the long list has 13 titles – time to get reading before the shortlist comes out in September.  If you are thinking of light summer reading, forget it – just read the publishers’ summaries.

I’ve ordered The Illuminations and A Little Life from my library system.  images-1

What appeals to you?

Man Booker Longlist for 2015

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor.  Alone and directionless, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town. In her wake, a community emerges, weaving a beautiful and surprising web of connections through shared heartbreak.

The Green Road by Anne Enright

A shattering novel set in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness—a book about the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them.  Spanning thirty years, The Green Road tells the story of Rosaleen, matriarch of the Madigans, a family on the cusp of either coming together or falling irreparably apart.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

A masterfully written novel that explores the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the late 1970s.

The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

The imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America: Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico. The slave of a Spanish conquistador, Estebanico sails for the Americas with his master, Dorantes, as part of a danger-laden expedition to Florida. Within a year, Estebanico is one of only four crew members to survive.   As he journeys across America with his Spanish companions, the Old World roles of slave and master fall away, and Estebanico remakes himself as an equal, a healer, and a remarkable storyteller.

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy

U., a “corporate anthropologist,” is tasked with writing the Great Report, an all-encompassing ethnographic document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn, he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions, willing them to coalesce into symbols that can be translated into some kind of account that makes sense. As he begins to wonder if the Great Report might remain a shapeless, oozing plasma, his senses are startled awake by a dream of an apocalyptic cityscape.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

In a Nigerian town in the mid 1990’s, four brothers encounter a madman whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the core of their close-knit family.  Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990’s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings.

The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan

Anne Quirk’s life is built on stories–both the lies she was told by the man she loved and the fictions she told herself to survive. Nobody remembers Anne now, but this elderly woman was an artistic pioneer in her youth, a creator of groundbreaking documentary photographs. Her beloved grandson Luke, now a captain with the Royal Western Fusiliers in the British army, has inherited her habit of transforming reality. When Luke’s mission in Afghanistan goes horribly wrong, his vision of life is distorted and he is forced to see the world anew.  Once Luke returns to Scotland, the secrets and lies that have shaped generations of his family begin to emerge as he and Anne set out to confront a mystery from her past among the Blackpool Illuminations–the dazzling artificial lights that brighten the seaside resort town as the season turns to winter.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead and Home, Marilynne Robinson returns to the town of Gilead.  Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church-the only available shelter from the rain-and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.

Sleeping on Jupiter by Anurhada Roy

The story is about Nomi, a young girl who is taken from her family and finds herself in an ashram, overseen by a charismatic guru. But Guruji’s charm masks a predatory menace and the young girl faces danger. Around 20 years later, Nomi returns to Jarmuli with a documentary film crew. All has changed in a town that she no longer knows, as tourists and market traders bustle, banter and chase their dreams amidst the temples of her youth. Seeking the truth about what happened to her and her family, Nomi finds herself chasing shadows in a town that has reinvented itself. But when she returns to the ashram that haunts her dreams, she discovers some scars cannot be washed away.

The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota

Tells of the bold dreams and daily struggles of thirteen young men –  sweeping between India and England, and between childhood and the present day {who} live in a house in Sheffield, each in flight from India and in desperate search of a new life. Tarlochan, a former rickshaw driver, will say nothing about his past in Bihar; and Avtar has a secret that binds him to protect the choatic Randeep. Randeep, in turn, has a visa-wife in a flat on the other side of town: a clever, devout woman whose cupboards are full of her husband’s clothes, in case the immigration men surprise her with a call.

The Chimes by Anna Smaill

A novel about what might happen if the written word were replaced with music. A boy stands by the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain. No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment. No directions, as written words have long since been forbidden. No parents – just a melody that tugs at him, a thread to follow. A song that says if he can just get to the capital, he may find some answers about what happened to them. The world around Simon sings, each movement a pulse of rhythm, each object weaving its own melody, music ringing in every drop of air…life is orchestrated by a vast musical instrument that renders people unable to form new memories.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red’s father… takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.

Checkout my Review:  A Spool of Blue Thread

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

 

 

 

 

 

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